The children of the sixties learned about the danger of guns before we learned the alphabet. My first indelible memory was the assassination of JFK, then Malcolm X, the University of Texas massacre, Dr. King, RFK, Kent State, Gerald Ford, and even the Manson murders. Throughout the Vietnam War, Walter Cronkite counted the dead as never-seen-before live images of men and women dying or broken frightened my childhood innocence away. I was born into a world of exploding bombs, terrified Vietnamese, and lots and lots of bullets, bombs, and guns.
Several years ago while walking from home to my car, a man rushed me sticking a revolver my face. Even though I sparked a thought to bargain, I quickly handed him my cash. Weeks later the police telephoned. A suspect had been caught. He was charged with assault over a victim who wasn't as quick on the draw as I had been with my cash. This guy had actually fired upon a young woman, irreparably injuring her spinal cord with a single shot.
The echo of a bullet and my abhorrence of violence convinced me long ago that there was nothing romantic or fashionable about a gun. Then came children caught in gang-war crossfire, school shootings, terrorism at the point of a rifle, and more and more war. Even after Columbine -- and scores of other high profile rampages -- film, music, television and video games still market gun violence as an accepted and expected part of the American experience. The counter-intuitiveness of romanticizing violence is too repugnant for me to dwell on -- much less promote, but that's just what LA based clothing company Future Heretics is doing with its threatening, vile and violent fashions.
Since 1977 the ubiquitous "I Love (heart) NY" campaign has spoken for up optimism and pride by every community who has adapted it for their own use. Like the smiley face before it, the slogan nourishes good cheer along with a strong sense of community dignity. But now Future Heretics has replaced the heart with an Uzi sub-machine gun and the "NY" with "LA."
Across the pages of People, US, and leading fashion magazines mindless stars with thin careers are being showcased wearing these t-shirts. Hayden Panettiere, Khloe Kardashian, Sarai Givati, Fergie and Lindsay Lohan are among the stars whose candid photographs the company is using to market their wares. But Future Heretics hasn't stopped with Los Angeles, they have waved the automatic weapon at Santa Barbara in a special-issue "I (UZI) SB".
Everyone is frightened of everyone; no one can be trusted. Arm and aim or be a victim. It's the idiocy of war, terrorism, and violence in everyone's bedside drawer. Even as it's been reported that gun and bullet sales are at unimaginable levels, we cannot allow violence and threats to be fashion. Maybe these starlets aren't callous, perhaps they are just not aware that guns kill, maim, and cause unbearable pain to thousands of people across America every year. Future Heretics and these young women are just incredibly overrated and unwittingly they are co-opting a violence that may someday, as it did to me, turn a real gun on them.
Oh, what I would do for a peace sign these days.